Written by Mariah J. Garratt || Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash
As a parent, seeing your child succeed in life is likely to be a high priority on your list. Unfortunately, encouraging the avoidance of underage drinking while promoting healthy habits and relationships isn’t always an easy task.
Teenagers were proven to experience stress at levels rivaling those of their adult counterparts. As relationships are a large part of the teenage experience, the impact of internal and external peer pressures also holds immense weight.
Confidence can essentially act as an immunity shot for the very areas of weakness that can tempt a teen to try drinking in the first place.
So how can you equip your teen with the tool of confidence?
- Confidence is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is why it is so important to regularly compliment your child on the things they do well in and encourage them in areas they might find to be frustrating or difficult. Similarly, research has shown that teens whose parents communicate that they will end up drinking, often fulfill this expectation.
- Confidence is a community effort. Having someone who you know believes in you is a life-changing influence for a growing child. Besides your own encouragement and support, encourage your teen to remember that they have teachers, coaches, and friends who care for them and are proud of their efforts. This support system will be a powerful ally when they may need to refuse an opportunity to drink underage.
- Confidence is encouraged through service. One way a child can gain validation from others, as well as from within themselves, is through the act of volunteering. Research has found that acts of service, especially those done for strangers, have a positive effect on growing youths’ self-esteem. These experiences can also result in a life-long hobby or career path.
- Confidence is rarely built online. While the power of community is highly influential, social media has not been kind to the self-esteem of its users. In fact, one study showed 60% of regular social media users experiencing negative results on their self-esteem. This implicit peer pressure, caused by an illusion of unattained happiness, can lead a teen to try drinking underage. Remind your child of this, and consider setting social media limits.
- Confidence is reinforced with listening. Not only do you need to offer encouragement to your teen, but when they talk about their lives and passions be sure that you are intently listening. When you disagree, listen to their perspective – allow them to use the confidence they have developed. If they can boldly speak up and do the right thing now, odds are that they will be able to do the same when they are faced with a major decision, such as refusing to drink when pressured.
- Confidence can be learned through observation. How can you expect your teenager to be confident if you are not modeling this characteristic first? Take time to reflect on how you can grow in your own confidence. Consider taking on a new life experience to expand your horizons and never modeling negative self-talk.
At the end of the day, we are all human, so if you find yourself messing up in these areas – don’t be discouraged! Do your best to remind your teen that you are proud of them daily, and when the time comes for them to make a difficult choice, it will be your support that will help them make the right decision.